I have a story about how I went from “converted” to “unconverted” and back to “converted” again. And all from the words that proceeded from the mouth of the “true ministers of God.”
I was known for many years in the Worldwide Church of God as a “converted,” serving, vital member of the body of Christ. I was even a Spokesman Club graduate. As years passed (especially after we moved to another state), it became increasingly more difficult for me to provide for my family due to all the tithes and offerings (which sometimes I was unable to send in), plus trying to find a good steady job. Any family man that has spent time in the WCG should understand.
A few years later we moved again, and because of a certain job I had, I was unable to go to services regularly. When my wife counseled with the associate pastor he told her, “I don’t think he’s converted. Just forget about what he’s doing. God is working with YOU.” My wife then said, “But what about how he changed in thus and thus so shortly after he was baptized?” The pastor responded, “Well even ALCOHOLICS can change.” (She never told me that at the time.)
It got rougher for me to even save up a 2nd tithe but we managed to scrape the money together somehow to go to the Feast each fall. Times were very difficult financially and finally I got a job that required a little work on Saturdays, periodically. I had to do it or lose my job. The only thing was it caused me to miss services a lot of times. (Let me just interject that after about five years in the WCG I always felt like I couldn’t measure up anyway. I never was as “good” as the other members–which I thought were doing everything right.)
One Sabbath an elder asked my wife where I was and when she told him I had been working on the Sabbath, he told her she was to go tell the minister right away. When my minister heard about it, it wasn’t long before he set up an appointment to pay me a visit. I knew I would be raked over the coals, but I also believed I had to provide for my family.
After the minister told me all the ins and outs of how the Sabbath should be observed, he asked me if I was “now going to keep the Sabbath?” I told him I “would try.” He asked me a second time and I repeated the same words. Then he told me, “You are not to come back to church for THREE months until you decide to OBEY God.” I stood there in shock. For several years I knew I had drifted from being 100% obedient to what they said was “God’s commandments” and now finally the ax fell. (However, looking back, I think at that time I knew deep in my heart that he could not severe my relationship with God.)
My wife talked to the minister again before the three months were up, telling him how hard I was trying. He said, “Is he keeping the Sabbath?” She answered, “Not all the time.” Result? The minister told her to tell me I could come back–but he “ISN’T CONVERTED.” I was now in a different class–and my wife was married to one of those “rebellious unconverted mates.”
My wife later asked for, and obtained, 2nd tithe assistance that year. Her “rebellious unconverted” husband didn’t have enough saved up. The minister emphasized to her, “He’s not to touch one dime of it!” Being made to feel like an unconverted slob and losing the friendship of a deacon in the church, I went to the Feast at least expecting to serve as an usher as prior to all this I had been assigned that job. The first evening I got there I was told by an elder that I could NOT serve in any capacity because I was “NOT a member of the church.” Even my wife was beginning to distance herself from me: “the carnal of the world.”
But I decided at that Feast of Tabernacles that I would serve in my own way. I went around to the elderly, the handicapped, the poor. I talked to ones that were down and out and tried to encourage them. I still felt like a bum around the ministers and elders and even most of the members. But that was how I served! They couldn’t stop me from that!
Months went by and I decided to have a talk with my minister on how I’d been trying to get closer to God. We were at a basketball game and I found him and went up to him, expecting to have a good talk. I had prayed a lot beforehand. Result? He told me, “I don’t even want to talk to you for a YEAR!” In other words, I was to take one year to work on getting myself converted and to show some fruits that I wanted to “obey.” I crawled out of there, feeling low as if I had been run over by a semi, but I vowed I would never go talk to him again.
I went through a lot after that, feeling like I “wasn’t good enough for God’s Kingdom,” feeling I would never make it. Every time my wife tried to discuss something with me about “God’s commandments” or something spiritual, my mind just shifted and became dark and negative. After all, I was the “black sheep of the congregation.”
At a holy day one time I even had one member (who heard I was “no longer converted”) place his hand in his pocket when I came up to him and attempted to shake his hand!
Five years later we got a new minister and since he was much friendlier I thought maybe I could approach him. It took quite awhile to get my nerve up, but finally a time was set up to counsel with him. I wanted to present all the evidence I could to show I might be “converted.” (By this time my wife and I thought possibly I was converted because of the way my mind was in those early years in the WCG; notes I had written, etc.) This new minister and I talked in a room for two to three hours and afterwards he said, “You ARE CONVERTED.” I thought prayers had been answered!
But at the very next holy day I learned that a member (actually a “friend” of my wife’s) was madder than a hornet because I had been told I was “converted” and had even partaken of Passover. She told my wife, “How the H*** could he be converted after everything he did!” It seems that she felt I ought to stay unconverted because of all my past sins.
I did not become the model member after that. I still had difficulty seeing how we were to pay all those tithes when God said we were an infidel if we didn’t provide for our own family. (I Timothy 5:8) Tkach, Sr. started changing things on down the road and I thought at first he was sincere and all be would okay once he got everything turned to grace. My wife was the first to uncover that the WCG was a “cult” and that Joseph Tkach, Sr. was lying through his teeth, and so she left before I did. It took me awhile to leave–and here I was, the “rebellious” one to start with!
But I finally made the break in a moment of anger over an argument with my wife on whether Tkach, Sr. was corrupt or a “good guy.” I actually left the cult for her. I was angry at the WCG for a long time. I couldn’t figure out how I could have been so deceived. But it takes a lot of courage to leave and I congratulate any that have done it.
Let me end this by saying, love in a family is the most important thing, not rules and regulations and commandments and laws, but LOVE!
P.S. I later came to see that I was a converted Christian before I ever entered the WCG.